How To Prepare For Your First Dog

The decision to get a dog isn’t an easy one, but when you finally decide to do it, you won’t be sorry you did. Dogs are hugely loyal, friendly, and beautiful companions; your dog will keep you company for life and provide you with many happy (and frustrated!) moments. Of course, you should always remember that pet ownership is for life and not just for holidays; your companion is just that, not a momentary toy.

If you’ve decided to get a dog and it’ll be your first time living with a furry best friend, then there are lots of things you can do to prepare. Whether it’s financial, environmental, or emotional, having a dog takes a lot of prep, but it’s all absolutely worth it in the end. Here’s how to prepare for your first dog!

Make sure you’ve got the money to look after your dog

A pet is a pretty big financial commitment. You’ll have to buy all kinds of things to keep your furry friend happy and safe; food, doggy treats, toys, blankets…the list goes on and on. That’s why you shouldn’t commit to a dog until you know you’ll be stable enough to look after them for the long term.

Of course, sometimes, the unforeseen can happen, and that’s when you should turn to options like online loans to help you get the cash you need to keep your dog healthy and happy. Naturally, you should make sure that you’re in a position to pay the loan back afterwards as well, otherwise you might find yourself in a worse position than when you started.

Get your house ready

Your house might need a little modification before it’s safe for a dog to inhabit. There might, for example, be dangerous things lying around that dogs could easily hurt themselves on, and there could also be precarious areas where dogs could potentially break things that are valuable to you.

American Humane has some pretty useful tips on how to “pet-proof” your home. These include keeping bins covered, checking that there aren’t any small nooks or crannies your dog could work their way into, and using childproof latches to stop animals from opening cupboards or cabinets. All of these are great tips for your first dog!

Prepare to walk

Depending on which dog breed you have, your dog may require more or less exercise than the average dog, but one thing’s for sure: they’re going to need walking daily. If you’re not used to regular exercise, you may want to start stepping up your routine before you meet your dog and bring them home so that you’re ready.

Some breeds, like Huskies or Malamutes, need to be walked more regularly than once a day, and will likely get antsy and frustrated if they aren’t walked. If you’re teaming up with one of these adorable animals, make sure that you’re ready for the kind of exercise regimen they want to implement. After all, it’s your dog that gets to decide!

Buy the right kind of food

It’s definitely a good idea to swot up on what kind of foods dogs can eat before you start living with your dog. The very last thing you want is to accidentally feed your dog something they don’t like, or worse, that could damage them. There’s a common perception that dogs can eat anything, but that’s simply not true at all.

Some of the foods that shouldn’t be anywhere near dogs include raw eggs, avocados, and caffeine, but most of all, do not feed your dog chocolate. There’s a good reason that special doggy chocolate is often sold in pet shops; it’s because chocolate contains a substance that’s toxic to dogs. Keep chocolate out of their reach, too, because they can be very inquisitive!

Get a collar with an ID tag

Your dog is likely to be at your side at all times, but if they’re a puppy or if they’re particularly wanton, then there may be times that they manage to evade your grasp and run away. If that does happen – and we hope it doesn’t, because it can be a very distressing experience – make sure your dog has a collar with an ID tag.

At minimum, your dog’s ID tag should bear their name and a phone number to call if somebody finds them. Don’t include your address on the ID tag; it’s too much information for a small surface like that, and there are privacy and safety concerns besides. Just make sure your phone number is clearly visible so that people can help your dog find their way home!

Spay or neuter your dog

It’s basic responsible practice to spay or neuter your pet. While this is more important for animals that will be roaming freely around the neighbourhood, like cats, it’s still important for dogs; after all, what happens if your dog somehow gets off the leash at a pet park and finds another dog?

Most vets will spay or neuter your pet for a reasonable fee, and while you’re there, you can arrange for vet appointments to ensure there aren’t any other problems you need to know about. Your dog’s health is extremely important, so if you do end up noticing something slightly amiss with your friend’s behaviour, never hesitate to call the vet. It’s better for it to be a false alarm than a problem noticed too late.

Brenda Thompson

Brenda Thompson is an expert in dog behavior with over a decade of experience, and she is also passionate about working with cats and birds. In addition to contributing pet content to petdogplanet.com, she is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. Brenda received her Bachelor of Science in Biological and Biomedical Sciences & Philosophy from Colorado College in 2014. She has taken classes in writing and remote animal behavior consulting, as well as courses on how to manage aggressive dogs and litter box issues. In 2016, she obtained her dog behavior consulting certification and joined the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.

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